Ovarian cancer: Improvement work under way amid concerns treatment in Scotland is a ‘postcode lottery’ | UK News

Improvement work is under way amid a report that treatment for ovarian cancer in Scotland is a “postcode lottery” and has left some women with no option but to pay for private healthcare.

MSP Carol Mochan said she was “dismayed” to read a newspaper’s report of a “two-tiered health system, where the wealthy can afford treatment and even those on average incomes have little choice but to spend most of their savings on surgery to keep them alive”.

During topical questions at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Ms Mochan added: “If you are poor, it seems your [option is to hope] you can get surgery on the NHS before it is too late.”

Jenni Minto, minister for public health and women’s health, said regional cancer networks have undertaken improvement work to reduce ovarian cancer surgery waits.

She added: “The Scottish government continues to monitor these activities and support progress in improving overall care for ovarian cancer patients.

“The NHS continue to prioritise cancer care and where there is an urgent suspicion of cancer, they make every effort to ensure a patient is seen quickly – with median waiting times to treatment for those on our urgent pathways being four days.”

Ovarian cancer is called a “silent killer” as it is often detected once it has advanced and spread, making treatment more difficult.

Treatment will usually involve a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

The Sunday Post report claimed that women in northern and eastern Scotland are able to access treatment and surgery quickly, while those in the west face delays unless they can pay for their own.

One woman from Ayr opted for private surgery as she did not want to play “Russian roulette” with her life.

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The concerns come two years after the launch of Scotland’s flagship Women’s Health Plan to help tackle health inequality.

Ms Mochan, Scottish Labour MSP for South Scotland, stated: “There has rarely been a time since the foundation of the NHS where it has been so dangerous to be a woman who is not well-off in Scotland.

“And depending on where you live, the situation could be even worse.”

Ms Minto, SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, said she had read the same article.

She said: “I absolutely understand the concern that this is causing.”

The minister said the Scottish government had met with clinical leads to “understand current practice and how we can continue to improve outcomes”, with improvement work already under way.

Ms Minto added: “The Scottish ovarian cancer clinic networks [have] set out some immediate actions, but also some short-term actions.

“For example, including increasing theatre capacity and also mutual support between health boards.”